CEO and Founder, EducationSuperHighway
In our increasingly online world, we need to prepare America’s students to be able to use technology at school, and eventually at work.
Technological literacy has become a required skill, which means digital learning can no longer be thought of as an extracurricular. In order for teachers and students to use technology in the classroom, our schools also need access to high-speed Internet. If they can’t get online, the devices they have don’t matter.
That’s why EducationSuperHighway set out to improve broadband in America’s K-12 classrooms.
Since 2015, more than eight out of every 10 school districts have used federal funding for Wi-Fi upgrades. We’ve seen how Wi-Fi access in classrooms opens the door to digital learning opportunities and allows teachers to start integrating technology into their classrooms — engaging students with new content, using online applications to teach in different ways, creating customized learning plans, and keeping better track of each individual student’s progress. In fact, Wi-Fi has become as integral to classroom learning today as pencils and chalkboards.
Last year, schools used more of the available funding than ever before, allowing them to improve their on-campus data networks. By bringing Wi-Fi and technology into every classroom, school districts have been able to achieve incredible educational outcomes. These are just a few examples:
- Tyler Independent School District in Texas was able to start an Early College High School, giving its students the opportunity to take high school and college credits simultaneously.
- In Tullahoma, Tennessee, teachers use Google Classrooms to create customized materials for their students. Music students are using a program that teaches them concepts and records their practice sessions, which also allows their teachers to review their work more easily.
- Williamsfield’s 300-student school district in Central Illinois has been able to create the kind of program that’s usually only available in larger school districts by using open education resources. High school students are gaining valuable engineering skills using augmented reality to create prototypes for their solutions to agriculture challenges. Others schools are leveraging distance learning to take community college courses without having to spend the time or money to travel 35 miles to campus, which means graduates can leave with an associate’s degree and a high school diploma.
The flip side
Unfortunately, we’ve also seen how a lack of reliable internet in the classroom can cause frustration, spinning wheels on computer screens, and wasted time and resources. Worse, it puts students at a significant disadvantage in a technology-oriented world. Having Wi-Fi in our schools opens up opportunity for students who have it and limits opportunity for those who don’t.
The good news is that we’re getting closer to leveling the playing field, but many schools still need better internal networks to have enough connectivity to give all students have the tools, technology, and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. If you’d like to learn more about how to help close the classroom connectivity gap so every student can take advantage of the promise of digital learning, visit EducationSuperHighway.org.
Evan Marwell, CEO and Founder, EducationSuperHighway, [email protected]